I wrote this article as a final for my Column & Opinion Writing Class before graduation. It’s linking the concept of The Purge with my opinions regarding Immigration Reform in America. Read on below.
Immigration Reform: The Unofficial Purge
I recently went to the movies to see the surprising box office sensation “The Purge” with my uncle who is a law professor at Northwestern University. As you may know, the movie’s premise is a peaceful future (2020) where the government has sanctioned that crime be legal for a horrifying 12-hour night once a year (Alexander, 2013). The main character, James Sanders (Ethan Hawke), is a very successful home security salesman and father who is, for the first time, faced with the negative effects of an unforgettable purge night.
In spite of his intricate home security system, and high class environment, his home is infiltrated by masked, death-crazed vigilantes who, as the movie frequently suggests, wish to release their stress and purge themselves of their inadequacies (the poor and noncontributing members of society). To make a long story short, the purpose was to show how the rich don’t think about how certain laws affect society until it affects them directly and violently. More importantly, it conveyed the very thick line between the freedoms of the underclass and those of the upper class.
Even though I thought the movie was excellently done, for what it was, I was still taken aback by it’s interesting concept. Not only does this movie hit too close to home, I honestly think there are many Americans that would argue for a “purge” sanction to exist. In an attempt to wrap my mind around this, I had an in depth conversation with my uncle who, unfortunately, took my fears to a whole other level. He suggested this:
Uncle: You don’t have to worry about the government starting a purge day because it already exists!
Me: What you mean?!
Uncle: Think about it. We may not kill off criminals, or the poor, but we do sanction them to a certain degree, right? We exclude them so that they are only in specific areas and so we don’t see them. Then they aren’t a problem. So when bad things happen in those areas, it’s okay, as long as the “rich folk” ain’t hurt. This movie is doing the same thing, except instead of imprisoning them or forcing them to live in ghettos, they are killing those underprivileged folks off.
To a large degree, he’s right. We (generally speaking) may not kill off those who don’t benefit from the unbalanced system formally known as our nation’s government (they were considered “sacrifices” in the movie), but we still deny them the right (at least not the same right) to live comfortable, sustainable lives in hopes to make a clean, distinct line between the haves and have-nots.
Take, for instance, the growing controversial debate around immigration reform. While the new legislation seems promising opportunity for illegal immigrants,, there is still the aspect of limiting their, albeit already slim, chances of “joining the American family” (Obama as quoted by Mascaro & Parsons, 2013). Similar to the purge concept,, there is an underlying sense of establishing a border between the haves and have-nots and creating a means to police that thick line.
On one hand, within the new legislation, there’s the proposition of a 10 to 13-year route to legal status with an additional focus on tighter border control. The bill will provide $4.5 billion for more drones, manpower and double-layer fencing on the U.S.-Mexico border during its first five years in effect (Mascaro & Parsons, 2013). The bill will require all businesses to verify the legal status of new employees, which will encourage a better economy.
On the other hand, however, the process to citizenship will be long (even for those who are already illegally here) and it will become increasingly difficult for new immigrants to come into our country and lead better lives. It will also require immigrants who are already here to undergo background checks and pay fines and fees just so they can gain provisional status that allows them work permits (Mascaro & Parsons, 2013).. Not to mention the tax dollars going towards new technology and security efforts. To make matters worse, according to Obama, this bill is only “…the opportunity — not the guarantee…” (Obama as quoted by Mascaro & Parsons, 2013), which means these people aren’t even guaranteed to become citizens after a decade of involvement.
So, what’s the point?
It is very simple–to make the lives of current citizens more sustainable, and the opportunities for outsiders unbearable. On the one hand, this bill proposes an opportunity to police illegal aliens that are “draining our government resources” (as most Americans like to argue). Jobs will return to the American people, and the growing latino community will have a concrete pathway towards citizenship. At the same time, it’s a radical way to permit those underprivileged many to seek access within one of the best countries in the world and it’s privileged few. While this new bill seems to be a step in the right direction, like the purge, we are still limiting the pathway to access.
(Mascaro & Parsons, 2013)
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